Sunday 14 April 2024
Select a region
Opinion

OPINION: Where is healthcare heading?

OPINION: Where is healthcare heading?

Tuesday 05 December 2023

OPINION: Where is healthcare heading?

Tuesday 05 December 2023


According to the Government Plan, which will be debated on 12 December, spending on healthcare was budgeted at £249million this year.

The Finance Report published with Health Advisory Board papers for their meeting on 1 November indicated expenditures of £294.2million for the 2023 year-end.

What accounts for the £45million variance?

The Government Plan indicates that HCS expenditures will be £287million in 2024. There is little information on how the money will be spent and only promises from the Health Minister that a healthcare strategy is on the way.

If there is still no known healthcare strategy one wonders whether expenditure in 2024 will overrun as it did in 2023. The project for the acute hospital at Overdale is now waiting to move ahead, but there are still no details of the health strategy that will fit these plans. Why?

Professor_Hugo_Mascie-Taylor_.jpg

Pictured: "At least £250,000 has been paid to the Board’s Interim Chair, Professor Mascie-Taylor."

Much of the time that should have been focused on a healthcare strategy has instead been syphoned off by the continuing controversy around the Health and Community Services Advisory Board.

In May this year, the Friends of the New Hospital posted concerns about the Board on our website.

In Bulletin 25 we wrote:

The proposed Board will divert time and resources from the recently appointed Turnaround Team and the new Chief Officer who need to concentrate their efforts on getting our hospital fit for purpose.

The cost of the proposed Board is considerable particularly at a time when more resources are needed to bolster clinical and nursing services.

Six months later all our concerns have been realised.

At least £250,000 has been paid to the Board’s Interim Chair, Professor Mascie-Taylor. The next Board meeting, only its third in public, is on 6 December but the Board is still not properly constituted and is still under its Interim Chair.

Professor Mascie-Taylor was due to leave on 21 November but is now staying until the end of December because the Health Minister has been unable to agree on a permanent appointment.

reshuffle.jpg

Pictured: "The subsequent reshuffle of the Council of Ministers has resulted in the appointment of a third Assistant Health Minister, Deputy Philip Ozouf, who has no known experience of healthcare."

The Jersey Appointments Commission had selected a suitable candidate but the Health Minister turned the candidate down. The Chief Minister has said that there are  “good” reasons for this and that it is the Health Minister’s prerogative to do so.

However we do not know what those “good reasons” are and the failure to appoint a permanent Chair triggered the resignation of Constable Andy Jehan, the Assistant Chief Minister, in protest about way public money is being wasted.

The subsequent reshuffle of the Council of Ministers has resulted in the appointment of a third Assistant Health Minister, Deputy Philip Ozouf, who has no known experience of healthcare.

It is not the Advisory Board but rather another body, the Turnaround Team, that has produced the most important report on healthcare so far.

The Financial Recovery Plan signed by Chris Bown, the Interim Chief Office of the Health and Community Service, concentrates on savings in healthcare finances. It pinpoints ways to save £3million in 2023 with savings of £12million next year and £10.6million in 2025.

Health Minister Karen Wilson.jpg

Pictured: "The Jersey Appointments Commission had selected a suitable candidate but the Health Minister turned the candidate down."

Most of these recommendations depend on better recruitment policies for front line staff, such as a reduction of locums and phasing out the use of agencies. However with only a few weeks to go until the end of the year there is still little evidence that new recruitment initiatives are kicking in.

Failure to find a specialist nurse in ophthalmology led to the Health Minister’s announcement last month that patients (some of whom have been waiting 21 months) will be sent to the UK for treatment. Estimates are that this will cost nearly £1million. If this sum included in the Financial Recovery Plan savings or not? 

This could be a question to put to the Advisory Board’s meeting on 6 December. Most of the reports scheduled for the meeting tell us what healthcare experts already knew six months ago. So why have we spent £250,000 to arrive at this point with still no healthcare strategy in sight?

This could be another question to ask at the meeting, but the Board’s web page has now removed instructions about how and when the public can ask questions.

These have been replaced by a sentence which now reads “Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe.”

We shall indeed be “observing” this space.

Mary Venturini, Chair of Friends of Our New Hospital 

Sign up to newsletter

 

You have landed on the Bailiwick Express website, however it appears you are based in . Would you like to stay on the site, or visit the site?